I know how it feels to be a helpless minnow swimming in a sea of hungry sharks. It was dinner time at our first Christian Writer’s Conference. My friend and I were testing the waters.
The problem was the white non-color of our name tags. Announcing our home towns only, it may have well just said, “We are unpublished wannabes.” I came with a willing heart to learn, but didn’t know I was walking into deep waters, without a life jacket. That was my fear, and my illusion.
Editors had blue name tags, publishers had yellow, and published authors had green with stars to denote the numbers of their success. Not a brilliant idea in my opinion. Those of us with white tags were broadcasting we were clueless.
The authors came to meet publishers and editors and vice versa, which meant dinner time was mixing time, and of course who wants to sit with white tags? Just as I was regretting coming to the conference, a woman with an entourage of followers invaded my pity party.
It was THE Frances Waters, the most famous Christian romance writer of our time. ( according to the time she spends on the top of best seller lists. ) My favorite shark had parked right next to me. Was I dreaming?
Trying to manage my star-struck emotions, I asked if she wanted some sweet and low for her tea. She politely declined. Oh dear.
I had to think of something to talk about that was more profound than superficial sugar. Coming out of my fear fog, I shared with her that our church book club had read about four of her novels. Great ice breaker idea. Stupid mistake.
She asked me which book I liked the best and why. A normal question to a very abnormal minnow. I went blank. I cannot believe I’m sitting here with a woman whose worthy of autograph signing, and she is asking me for feedback. I froze. A frozen minnow with no intelligent answer. I lived up to my white name tag.
I was hoping for an earthquake, but thankfully, my friend saw I was in trouble and changed the subject. I was so relieved, I got clumsy.
As I moved my fish stick on my fork to my mouth, it fell, and to my horror, went right into Frances’s open purse sitting between us on the floor. She didn’t see it, thank goodness, but it put me in a huge dilemma.
Do I tell her? Do I not tell her? Do I reach down and try to take it out discreetly ? Three choices.
One gets me to heaven, the other to hell, and the third choice possible jail time. The worry of the choice gave me a migraine.
I knew I had to come clean. Heaven seemed like the smartest choice, so I silently prayed for God’s mercy. Then I remembered why I loved her novels.
“Frances, you asked me a question, and I froze. I froze because you are one of my favorite authors and here we are at the same table. I drew a blank about everything except that in your books, your come across as real. Relatable. Genuine. Forgiving. And right now, I need that ‘cause my fish stick is in your purse. “
She laughed so loud, I was able to notice this shark had no teeth. She was normal. My kind of woman. The ice was broken. I thawed out, and we enjoyed the rest of the dinner just like old friends. I forgot who she was, and who I was not.
When I confessed my feelings about the name tag hierarchy, I found out that the reason she came to our table was because she saw our white name tags, and wanted to welcome us to the conference.
What was that I was saying about sharks? And minnows?
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